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Power, Control and Resistance

Developed by Dr. Ruth Barton

Aims of the lecture

Questions of Power and Control How power works; four faces of power; control Resistance Types of resistance

RMIT University©2012


Questions of Power How is power obtained in organisations? Who has power? How is influence achieved? What alternative theories and perspectives are there? What is power? Several dimensions and bases POWER What of resistance? Another form of power? RMIT University©2012 3 .

How Does Power Work in Organisations? Organisations are hierarchical Power as the ability to control social interaction RMIT University© .

What is Power? Normative (most rational way of organising power) Realpolitik (how does power actually operate) OB blind towards power Two broad traditions An individual capacity? Power as the prerogative of wise or wealthy men? Property of the person or collective? RMIT University©2012 (Source: Thompson and McHugh 2009:256) 5 .

Control • Organisational control consists of a complex and dynamic configuration of mechanisms and practices through which the regulation and monitoring of work performance is contested by groups or „corporate agents‟ embedded in institutionalised power relations (Reed. 2011) RMIT University© .

Marxism – Power of Property and Capital • Power an attribute of owning private property • Workers alienated and separated from the products of their labour and humanity • Focus on emancipation from power RMIT University© .

Power in Mainstream Theory Bases of power ► Reward ► Coercive ► Referent ► Legitimate ► Expert (French & Raven 1959) RMIT University© .

Trend spotting as Power information power in the advertising industry Control over information flow  legitimate power  More power to those who can help firms cope with uncertainty in contemporary business RMIT University© .

Power : Mainstream Theory (Runciman 1999) Economic Coercive Ideological RMIT University© .

The Four ‘Faces’ of Power ► Coercion ► Manipulation ► Domination ► Subjectification (Fleming and Spicer 2007) RMIT University© .

RMIT University© .First Face of Power: Coercion Taken from Lukes (1986) Direct coercion getting another person to do something that might not have been done.

The First Face of Power and Control • Rational bureaucratic control (Weber) –Process standardisation –Functional specialisation –Hierarchical coordination • Taylor‟s scientific and Fordist mass production regimes –Highly personalised and relatively confrontational forms of supervision RMIT University© .

The First Face of Power and Control • Control in the modern workplace –Remote –Depersonalised –Well integrated –Unobtrusive • Type of surveillance –Email scanning –Data entry –Phone calls –Video surveillance –Location monitoring RMIT University© .

RMIT University© .Second Face of Power – Manipulation Taken from Lukes (1986) ►Of agendas: „behind the scenes‟ politicking ►Exclusion from decision making authority ►Power as manipulation: There is no direct exercise of power but an implicit shaping of issues considered important or irrelevant.

The Second Face of Power and Control There are three processes of control • Anticipation of results • Mobilisation of bias • Rule and norm making RMIT University© .

attitudes and political outlook RMIT University© .Third Face of Power – Domination Taken from Lukes (1986) ►Over the preferences and opinions of participants ►Power that shapes our preferences.

The Third Face of Power and Control ►Used in the design and implementation of paradigmatic frameworks ►Forms of life e.g. profit ►Ideology ►Technical rationality RMIT University© .

verbal communication RMIT University© .The Third Face of Power and Control • Space as a frontier of control –Buildings as structures of non.

Fourth Face of Power – Subjectification Taken from Foucault (1977) ►Process of subjectification people are moulded with certain understandings of themselves and the world around them ►The organisation moulds people into a certain type ►Use knowledge to produce compliance RMIT University© .

The Fourth Face of Power and Control • Power and control operate through knowledge –Professionalism –Human Resource Management and performance appraisal –Internalisation of surveillance –Corporate culture RMIT University© .

pilferage and sabotage.“A wide range of behaviour – from failure to work very hard or conscientiously. 1999 cited in Fleming and Spicer. 1994 cited in Fleming and Spicer. 2007) “Resistance constitutes a form of power exercised by subordinates in the workplace. to not working at all.” (Collinson.” (Ackroyd and Thompson. deliberate output restriction. 2007) Resistance RMIT University©2012 22 . practical joking.

Faces of Resistance .Refusal ►Resistance is refusal to do what the person in the position of power tells him / her to do ► Aim is to block the effects of power by undermining the domination rather than changing it RMIT University© .

Voice Resistance is to gain access to power in order to express voice ►Internal: interest groups.Faces of Resistance . trade unions ►External: social movements ►Sabotage RMIT University© .

Faces of Resistance .Escape ►Escape is to mentally disengage from the world of work ► Tools are ►Cynicism ►Scepticism ►Dis-identification RMIT University© .

g. spoof advertisments RMIT University© .Fourth Face of Resistance . Union newsletter.Creation • Involves using domination to create something that was not intended by those in authority • May make use of parody e.

• But what comes first – power or resistance? RMIT University© . 1958. 1970).Conclusion • Power is a product of human collective endeavour and we should only expect power and politics to spring forth from our organisational endeavours (Arendt.

C (1999) „Space – The Final Frontier‟. 33(3): 535-553. A (2011) „Academic Architecture and the Constitution of the New Model Worker‟. London: SAGE. J (2005) The Politics of Working Life. N (2007) Power and Organisations. P and Spicer. • Edwards. London: SAGE. S. • Clegg. S and Haugaard. OUP: Oxford. M (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Power.References • Baldry. V (1999) “The appeal to „professionalism‟ as a disciplinary mechanism‟. • Fleming. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. RMIT University© . D and Phillips. • Clegg. S (2009) “Managing Power in Organizations: The Hidden History of Its Constitution‟. • Hancock. in Clegg. Sociology. Courpasson. P and Spicer. Power and Resistance in Organisations. 17(2): 91-105. Culture and Organization. P and Wajcman. A (2007) Contesting the Corporation: Struggle. • Fournier. 47(2): 280-307. The Sociological Review.

Houndmills: Palgrave. P and Smith. Houndmills: Palgrave RMIT University© .References • Reed. P and Delbridge. M (2011) „Control in Contemporary Work Organizations‟. Heery. • Sturdy. in Blyton. P. E and Turnbull. in Thompson. P (2010) „Normative Control and Beyond in Contemporary Capitalism‟. P (eds) Reassessing the Employment Relationship. A. C (eds) Working Life: Renewing Labour Process Analysis. Fleming.